What a tale of oak and fire we have here! We selected a wonderfully fruity Speyside single malt, which was maturing in bourbon hogsheads. We moved the whisky into a variety of custom coopered casks. In American oak we had new oak hogsheads made with a heavy toast and a medium char, and new oak barriques with a heavy toast (no char) and a medium plus toast (a little lighter, again no char). In French oak we opted for barriques in the same toasting specifications as the American barriques.
We found ourselves in a champagne frame of mind nosing neat, as we soaked gingerbread in the celebratory-worthy bubbly beside a classic kir royale cocktail with crème de cassis. On the palate, pears poached in pinot noir came topped with chantilly cream and vanilla custard, before a refreshing finish of elderflower sorbet. Following reduction one Panel member had torrone – Italian nougat flavoured with orange and packed with toasted almonds – in a dunnage warehouse, while others enjoyed caramelised cinnamon plantain. The taste was that of bergamot honey on creamy porridge with butter, as well as candied-and-coated-in-sugar yuzu peels.